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Orioles 2, Tigers 1: Close but no cigar

A tight pitcher’s duel saw the Tigers tie the game on their final strike, but lose it in the bottom of the ninth.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After an off-day (I imagine) spent taking an old-timey steam train from Detroit to Baltimore, with the players playing gin-rummy and taking turns bashing out Tin Pan Alley songs on an upright piano, the Tigers ran headlong into the Orioles’ hotter-than-hot pitching. Coming into the game they’d shut out opponents for 26 straight innings, but the Tigers broke that streak late in tonight’s game; alas, they then let the game slip away with some timely Baltimore hitting, losing 2-1.

Michael Lorenzen made his second start of the regular season for Detroit. The first one didn’t go so well: he gave up six runs in four innings while knocking off the rust after a groin injury derailed a good chunk of his spring training. The Tigers, if you recall, came back to win it in a thrilling, 11th-inning walk-off, so hey, Mike, you got away with one there.

Summitting the bump for the O’s, who sit in third place in the strong American League East, was Tyler Wells. He’s a solidly-built righty at 6’8” with a five-pitch mix, relying heavily on his cutter. He had his first full season last year, going 7-7 in 23 starts with a 1.138 WHIP, but “only” 6.6 strikeouts per nine innings. However, as he gets more comfortable in the major leagues, he should see that rate rise.

Lorenzen was looking good through the first four innings, helped by a couple of inning-ending double plays — a far cry from his first start in which he was giving out two-run home runs to everyone like Oprah hepped-up on Red Bull. Wells matched him, though: he gave up a pair of singles through four innings and struck out four to match. It only took about an hour to play these first four frames, so a repeat of Wednesday’s sub-two-hour contest was still a possibility.

Notably, Lorenzen was using one of his sliders effectively, setting up hitters for his cutter or a fastball that touched 98 mph while striking out Ramón Urías. He had a more sweeping slider, too, that he used to get hitters to make soft contact or foul something off.

In the top of the sixth Jake Rogers, not exactly known for his wheels, beat out an infield single. (Is there anything The Sarge can’t do?!) However, after a soft flyout, Riley Greene hit a scorching line drive to second baseman Adam Frazier, who threw back to first to nail Rogers for the double play.

Chasen Shreve took over for Lorenzen in the sixth. His final line was a solid one: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. He threw 45 of his 68 pitches for strikes, got soft contact and looked miles ahead of where he was a week ago.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, the speedy Cedric Mullins hit a double off the right field wall, threatening to score the first run of the game. But Shreve buckled down, got a groundout and a lineout, and the threat was over.

Wells finished the seventh inning, making it the longest start of his career to date. Ultimately he struck out five Tigers, walked one, and only gave up three singles.

José Cisnero took over in the bottom of the seventh, and he gave up a solo home run to Austin Hays to break the deadlock and give the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

Tyler Holton, who threw three shutout hold-’em-down innings in Lorenzen’s previous start, came on for the eighth and got two strikeouts sandwiched around a groundout.

Felix Bautista came in to try and close things out for the O’s in the ninth, and pinch-hitter Akil Baddoo poked a single through the infield to put the leadoff hitter on. Bautista is a big guy who’s slow to the plate, and Baddoo wasted no time by stealing second. Baddoo then scored on a two-out, two-strike single by Javier Báez to knot the score at 1, ending the O’s scoreless-inning streak.

Báez got a huge jump and stole second himself, but was stranded after a Kerry Carpenter flyout.

Holton carried on into the bottom of the ninth and got Adley Rutschman to ground out, then Jason Foley was summonned to deal with some righties. Foley’s been reliable lately, but he gave up a pair of singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Adam Frazier hit a chopper to first base and Spencer Torkelson fired home, but Ryan Mountcastle beat the throw and the Orioles won it 2-1.

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Notes and Numbers

  • Coming into tonight’s play, the number of teams at or above a .500 record in each American League division was as follows: East, 5; Central, 2; West, 1.
  • There’s more to that AL West, though: four out of the five teams in that division have a positive run differential. So there.
  • All told, the Orioles threw 34 shutout innings. In a row.
  • Does anyone else here listen to MLB Audio and hear the same handful of commercials every half-inning? I’ve heard the one for Net Suite so many times I’ve completely forgotten what they do. I think they sell fishing nets.
  • Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse “got the ziggy” today. This is apparently a specifically Detroit-based term for a team’s coach or manager getting fired. I love this phrase.
  • On this date in 1977, Annie opened on Broadway.
  • I can’t stand musicals. I think they’re dumb.